Distinguished Conduct Medal, GV, 1914 Star with clasp “5th Aug – 22nd Nov 1914”, General Service Medal, GV, bar Iraq, 7885 Sergeant J. Cook, 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment, a veteran of 25 years with the Manchesters.
An interesting and rare combination of service since a boy of only 14 with the Manchesters, leading to a wound by gun shot to his shoulder at Neuve Chapelle and a great example of gallantry near Nieuport during 1917 to earn a Distinguished Conduct Medal, followed after the war by the war in Iraq, where many of his regiment fell in action at the Battle of Hillah.
D.C.M. impressed: “7885 Sjt. J. Cook. 2/Manch. R.”
1914 Star impressed: “7885 L. Cpl. J. Cook. 1/Manch: R.”
WW1 pair impressed: “7885 Sjt J. Cook. Manch R.”
G.S.M. impressed: “7885 Sjt J. Cook. Manch. R.”
Some general wear and pitting from long service.
With his original Red Book Certificate of Service, original front page of the Hull Daily News from his wedding and a post card photograph of the sergeants of his battalion.
Award of the D.C.M. announced London Gazette 25th August 1917:
“'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when holding a sap with his platoon under direct enfilade fire. Although half his men became casualties he moved up and down encouraging the remainder to hold on, and at one moment digging out men who had been buried by shell fire, at all times showing a total disregard of danger. By his extreme coolness and devotion he kept his men together in readiness to repel any attempt at an attack on the part of the enemy, displaying personal gallantry of the highest order.'
An extra account of the action with further details was published in the Hull Daily News on 29th October 1917:
Titled: TRENCH TO ALTAR, BRAVE SERGEANT’S MARRIAGE AT SKIRLAUGH
“On 20 June 1917 near Nieuport, this Non-Commissioned Officer was in charge of a platoon holding the Fortin St. Bernard Sap during a heavy bombardment under cover of which it was expected that the enemy would attempt a raid. The sap had no traverses or cover in it and was subject to a direct enfilade from the enemy guns. During the bombardment, though over half his platoon became casualties, this Non-Commissioned Officer moved up and down the sap cheering up his men and proceeded three times to the head of the sap to visit several men who were at their bombing posts. He located five men who had been buried by the bombardment and personally supervised under continual shell-fire the digging out of three of these men. By his personal gallantry under very heavy and accurate artillery fire, by his coolness and devotion to duty and his personal organisation he held his platoon together as a tactical unit ready to repel at any moment an attack on the art of the enemy.”
John Cook was born on 1st June 1888 in Kensington, London. He first attested for service at Ashtead for the Manchester Egiment on 1st October 1902, aged only 14 years and 2 months old. He had been educated at Kensington and Chelsea schools and stood at 4 foot 3 1/2 inches tall.
He was then posted to the 2nd Battalion on 27th October 1902 with the Rank of Boy.
Appointed Driver on 16th August 1903 and then Drummer on 3rd November 1910.
He saw many years service as a young teenager, here is his full overseas service:
Home 1-8-1902 to 5-1-1903
South Africa 6-1-1903 to 10-3-1903
Singapore 11-3-1903 to 19-12-1904
India 20-12-1904 to 26-08-1914
France 27-08-1914 to 11-03-1915
Home 13-03-1915 to 11-03-1915
France 12-11-1916 to 20-06-1918
Home 21-06-1918 to 12-02-1920
Mesopotamia (Iraq War) 13-02-1920 to 26-12-1920
India 27-12-1920 to 08-04-1924
Home 09-04-1924 to 30-06-1927
Home 01-07-1927 to 31-05-1928
During the First World War, he was one of the first to arrive in France during late August 1914, as a Lance Corporal from 27th August 1914 as a member of 1st Battalion Manchester Regt.
Appointed Acting Corporal on 20th September 1915 and Acting Sergeant on 24th January 1916.
He was evacuated home to England on board Hospital Ship St David on 12th March 1915, from a gunshot wound to the right shoulder received in action at Neuve Chapelle.
Returned to the Front in France on 12th November 1916.
Having already earned shown great bravery in action to be recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal, on 7th August 1917 he was tried by his superior by Field General Court Martial for “Allowing a soldier to escape without a reasonable excuse” on 20th July 1917, being punished by Loss of Rank.
During his time he managed to get Married to Miss Nellie Mawer on 27th October 1917, which was described in the local papers, the Hull Daily News as “A pretty war-time wedding” at Skirlaugh Parish Church, which “offered a little joy and respite, although the groom was required back in France on Tuesday.”
By the time of his discharged on 31st May 1928 he had served for a total of 25 years 304 days, his conduct and character described in his book as:
“Sober, honest, hardworking and a good disciplinarian. Has been employed in various positions of trust and proved himself to be a thoroughly reliable N.C.O.”